Monthly home sales in New Zealand's biggest city have fallen to their lowest level in 20 months as the lingering effects of the stalled economic recovery continue to weigh on households.
Auckland house sales fell 19% to 561 in October from a month earlier, while the average price paid for a home was unchanged from $524,000 in September, according to Barfoot & Thompson, the city's biggest real estate agency.
The data shows a reversal in the recovery of home prices when compared to figures from the Real Estate Institute, which show the average home price rose to $450,000 in September from $445,000 in August.
This falls in line with the muted economic outlook from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, which kept the official cash rate on hold at 3% in September, with consumers continuing to spend cautiously and pay off debt. Last month, QV Valuations data showed property values have been declining for much of this year and are about 5.7% below their peak in late 2007.
"This year the spring boost in housing activity has been slower to start, but in the last few weeks of the month new listings have increased significantly, and this normally precedes a lift in sales," said managing director, Peter Thompson.
New property listings rose 16% in October to 1,396, compared to the previous month, their highest level in six months. The increase brought total Auckland homes on the agency's books up to 5,861, an increase of 5.2%.
Average weekly rents in October rose by $10 to $417, a new high for average weekly rents which previously peaked at $408 in July.
"The average rent of $417 was achieved across 697 properties," Thompson said. "As this is only 20 less properties that we rented in September, it points to the market price lifting rather than the increase being due to a shortage of properties."